The Los Angeles Lakers are 7-3 through the first 10 games of the season, good enough for first place in the Western Conference standings and third-best record in the NBA. However, head coach Frank Vogel and LeBron James are aware they have not looked great in a majority of their games.
While L.A. went 5-1 in a six-game stretch against the San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies and Chicago Bulls, they struggled with consistency and to put away teams with far less talent.
Some early struggles by the Lakers are completely understandable, as they added several new rotation pieces and had the shortest offseason in American sports history. Those factors are part of why James is content with the team’s current play and their trajectory.
“Through the first 10 games I think we’ve played B/B+ basketball, and that is absolutely OK,” James said. “We are a team that added basically five new pieces to the rotation in Trezz, Dennis, Wes, Marc and also Talen.
“We’ve added five new pieces to our regular rotation and we’re still learning each other. We’re getting accustomed to different lineups and playing with different guys. But I think through the first 10 games, we’ve played pretty good basketball. We want to be better, but through the first 10 games I think B/B+. That lets me know we have room to improve, which is a bright spot.”
Vogel echoed a similar sentiment about L.A., saying that they are without a doubt a work in progress. “I would assess it as we’re a work in progress,” he said.
“We still have a lot of work to do to tighten things up, we’re still in an early evaluation phase of learning how our new pieces fit and what this year’s team looks like.
“We’re still looking at a lot of different combinations, putting guys in a lot of different spots to continue to learn and evaluate, and try to win games as we’re doing so. Has anything surprised me? That’s tough to answer after a game. It’s tough to put my finger on one thing.”
It’s evident there are still things that need to be figured out — especially defensively — but James and Vogel appear confident the Lakers have the time necessary to do so. Nevertheless, the team will likely be compared to their play from last season, which was impressive.
Vogel not concerned about early defensive struggles
While Anthony Davis voiced frustration regarding a lack of effort defensively, Vogel explained that he’s not too concerned about it moving forward, even if he understands that point of view.
“We had a terrible defensive night, so I understand his frustrations,” Vogel said of the Lakers’ defense in a loss to the Spurs.
“I felt the same exact way, but at the same time, it’s early in the season. It’s a process. We’re learning a new group and we’re evolving as a team. This is just part of the process. We had bumps in the road, very similar to [Thursday] night, early in the season last year.
“It’s just something we have to continue to work at each day. Not a big concern of mine.”
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